Rigidity and narrow mindedness are not good, but moral laxity isn’t, either. While religious fanaticism is wrong, it doesn’t mean that religion in itself deserves to be demonized. The current demonization of religion is often an excuse people use to allow themselves, in the name of freedom, to do things that run completely counter to their higher, noble nature. I am very intrigued when I hear that religion stifles freedom. I use the Baha’i Faith as a solid framework with boundaries outside of which I accept not to go, and within which I have more than enough space to do things that suit me as well as the community in which I live. While this can seem as constraining my freedom to some, I find that the discipline acquired through respect of the boundaries allows me to do so much more than I would have been able to without said discipline.
To say that religion restricts freedom is akin to saying that traffic lights restrict freedom. Traffic signals create within their boundaries an environment in which we can go freely from point A to point B. This is similar to religion. By creating boundaries that allow us to control our lower nature, which can only roam the material world, we give space for our higher nature, which can roam both the material and spiritual world, to do what it wants. By allowing our lower, more limited nature to control our lives, are we truly as free as when our higher nature takes over?